Press gets first peek at the new toys and technology showcased at CES

Associated Press

A security guard enters the Las Vegas Convention Center for the Consumer Electronics Show on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012. The annual show exhibiting the newest in tech gadgets opens Jan. 10.

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Attendees to the Consumer Electronics Show arrive Sunday, Jan. 8, in advance of the convention's opening next week.

Consumer electronic trade press from around the world had their appetites whetted for gadgets great and small Sunday as the Consumer Electronics Association unveiled what it considers some of the best devices to be shown at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show.

About 1,500 analysts, journalists and bloggers jammed into a small ballroom at the Venetian to get a first look at some of the products that will be on display when 2,700 exhibitors show their stuff this week. An estimated 5,000 press credentials have been issued for the show.

The four-day CES officially begins Tuesday, but organizers, analysts and industry trade media began arriving over the weekend to take advantage of previews, parties and media conferences leading up to the opening of the show, expected to bring more than 140,000 people to the city.

Several of the products unveiled at Sunday’s event are already on the market or have been previously announced. The HTC Amaze 4G, for example, incorporates an eight-megapixel camera on an Android 2.5 system. The public could buy it in Las Vegas last week.

But some of the things that were shown and announced were just, well, cool.

• SolarFocus Technology, which specializes in renewable energy products, is showing a solar book cover to charge the new Kindle tablets.

• Reality Design is unveiling the world’s first glass speaker. It combines electrostatic sonic panels with conventional cone technology.

• Palo Alto, Calif.-based Nest is showing what it says is the world’s first learning thermostat, which programs itself to individual comfort levels and saves energy.

• Panasonic’s newest Blu-Ray Disc player, the BDT320, has built-in WiFi and Skype with 3D picture quality. And it’s the slimmest player on the market.

• LG Electronics’ newest refrigerator incorporates a blast chiller that cools beverages within five minutes.

• Lytro, which announced that it would begin marketing its new Lytro camera by the end of the year, is expected to show the “light field” camera which allows operators to capture images and focus them after a picture is taken. They’ll cost between $399 and $499.

• Parrot, which develops wireless mobile applications, showed off a personal drone quadricopter piloted by WiFi using augmented reality — navigation by computer-generated sensory inputs.

• Ford is expected to offer details on its new MyFord mobile app to be incorporated in Focus Electric cars. It will enable owners to control car functions via smartphone or website, monitoring charge levels, planning routes via charge stations and remotely heating or cooling a vehicle.

Monday will be dedicated to company press events announcing new products and releases. Monday night, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will deliver the annual pre-show keynote address, the announced swan song for Microsoft as a key part of CES.

Late last year, the company announced it would have a diminished role in the show in the future.

“We’ll continue to participate in CES as a great place to connect with partners and customers across the PC, phone and entertainment industries, but we won't have a keynote or booth after this year because our product news milestones generally don’t align with the show’s January timing,” a company spokesman said.

The Consumer Electronics Association said plenty of other companies will be available to fill the Microsoft gap – and many of them will be on the trade show floor that opens Tuesday.

More than 140,000 people are expected to attend the event this year and the trade show will fill every hall within the Las Vegas Convention Center, plus some temporary structures set up in the parking lot. There also will be exhibits at the Venetian, the Renaissance and the Las Vegas Hotel (formerly Las Vegas Hilton).

More than 2,700 exhibitors will show products on 1.8 million square feet, larger than the size of 31 National Football League fields.